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Presidents' Ring-winner Brandon Smith wants one more cup with Stamps

Brandon Smith would love to go out on top.

The Calgary Stampeders defensive stalwart’s already a winner — a three-time Grey Cup champ — but a fourth one as he rides off into the sunset would sure have a nice ring to it.

Especially since it would mean a title take on the home turf of McMahon Stadium come Nov. 24.

“The championship is always your ultimate goal,” Smith said. “But to have an opportunity to do it this year at home, that’s just the cherry on top.”

Not that it hasn’t already been a sweet season in his final Canadian Football League campaign.

As he prepares to retire following one more playoff run, the 35-year-old Smith is still one of the fiercest competitors and solid defenders in the league.

Plus he’s been a boon to the city he’s called home since joining the Stampeders in 2008.

Enough so that Wednesday the Stampeders named the defensive back as the 2019 Presidents’ Ring winner for his excellence on and off the field as polled by the players.

“It’s truly an honour to be voted by my teammates, especially in the final year of my career,” said Smith of an annual team award that salutes in-game contribution, leadership, inspiration and motivational skills. “It’s been awhile — I’ve been here for quite some time, and to finally get it, it’s definitely an honour to be in this position.

“This award means a lot and will give me a good memory of all my years of being a Stampeder. I thank the coaching staff and my teammates for giving me the opportunity to lead by example.”

In his 12th season with the Stamps, the Oakland product, who is serving as a team captain in his final year, was once again a key member of the defensive unit.

In addition to his on-field exploits, Smith has been active in the community — most notably as the team’s spokesperson for the Every Yard Counts program, which features player visits to the Alberta Children’s Hospital the day before every Stampeders home game.

“Brandon is a quality person and an outstanding player who has been an important contributor to our success during his long career,” said Stampeders president/GM John Hufnagel. “Brandon has always been a teammate who prefers to lead by example, and I’m very pleased that his teammates have chosen to honour him with the Presidents’ Ring award.”

“We’re all pretty excited for him,” agreed Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “It means a lot what he’s done for our program and our city. I think the guys have finally bought in to what he is. I kind of feel like he shouldn’t have had to retire to win the Presidents’ Ring, but he’s that guy that’s been around forever and ever and is so consistent and has done a great job, so a little recognition won’t hurt.”

Smith played 174 regular-season games for the Red & White — good for 14th place on the franchise’s all-time list. He is 15th in CFL lore with 159 career defensive tackles, and he is one of just three players to capture three Grey Cups with the Stampeders.

In 16 games this year, he racked up 59 defensive tackles, one special-teams tackle, two interceptions — including a pick-six — one fumble recovery and four knockdowns.

Unfortunately, those statistics weren’t shiny enough to get the veteran halfback a spot on the CFL’s West Division all-star squad, which was also announced Wednesday.

“Didn’t get to see Smitty on the list, which would’ve been nice,” Dickenson said.

“Smitty’s always been a solid contributor to our defence,” said Stamps defensive coordinator Brent Monson. “Just a great guy and just a solid contributor in every aspect. Especially when you talk about our injuries, he’s been able to help coach up the young guys and be a communicator on the field. He’s just been solid in every way.”

Fellow defensive backs DaShaun Amos and Tre Roberson have been equally as sharp for the Stamps and both caught the eye of the all-star polling bloc, which is comprised of votes from members of the Football Reporters of Canada and one ballot from each team’s coaching staff.

It would’ve been surprising to see three Stampeders players slotted into the five all-star secondary spots, even though Smith deserves the accolade.

“I don’t really get involved in all that stuff right there,” Smith said. “First of all, it’s not voted on by your peers. It’s based on stats usually — and no one ever sees how those stats come about. It’s more did you get the interception or did you get the sack? They don’t care whether the ball was tipped five times and fell into your hands — they just say, ‘He got the turnover.’

“I tip my hat to the guys who did get it because they did do enough to get that nod. I’m proud of Tre and Amos getting it — proud to see them guys grow. Hearing those guys talk last year, that was something they wanted to do — something that was on their goals. I’m happy for them.”

Besides, for Smith, there’s a much bigger honour at hand in his final season.

“Winning the Grey Cup is a big accomplishment,” Smith said. “There’s only so many players that are able to have their name etched on that cup. When that time comes (again for me), it’ll mean that much more.

“The days are numbered now, so you have that much more appreciation for every moment of it — whether it’s practice or pre-game or game-time or getting ready for a game. You really live in the moment and enjoy every bit of it. The fact of not playing football again hasn’t hit me yet, but I am just living in the moment and enjoying every second of it.”

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Source: calgarysun.com